We all go through times when our patience is tested. We’re pushed to the edge, either by others or through our own overthinking, and it’s at that point that we find our patience wears thin. When this happens to me, I become anxious, annoyed, and irritable. I begin to fall into a daze, where I find myself not caring about anything or anyone, and focusing solely on myself. Focusing on oneself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be destructive if it isn’t balanced with giving back in some way or another. So, when I find myself in predicaments like these, I first turn to Allah. I pray two rakah (segments) of prayer, and supplicate while in prostration, asking Him to give me peace, calm, and serenity. It’s far too easy to fall prey to the stresses and hopes of this world, which can be scary and fatal, especially when it leads to us distancing ourselves from the hopes and aspirations of the Hereafter. Just the other, I was speaking to a friend about this. We discussed how in the past, during the time of the Prophet (SAW), he and his companions would have such a strong focus on their Hereafter, that this life was like a simple pit stop towards their ultimate goal of Paradise.
“Live in this world as a traveler or a stranger.” – Prophet Muhammad (SAW) [Bukhari and Tirmidhi]
This life we’re leading is something we should really consider as being a mere tool with which we can prepare ourselves for the Hereafter. That relates to so many matters of life, but to focus on the topic at hand, I’ll speak on how this relates to patience. We all live these rushed lives, trying to constantly get something done to fulfill our need for instant gratification. We become obsessed with how others are leading their lives, and feel the need to follow their examples without a moment’s consideration as to whether or not what they’re doing is right or wrong, beneficial or harmful. We live based on our desires and feel that we must embrace those desires in order to live well, forgetting that what makes us different from other creatures in this world is that we have been given the intellect to make sound judgments and moral decisions. These blessings make it possible for us to live within guidelines and boundaries we have set up based on morals and beliefs. What kind of a life are we leading if we focus on what is temporary instead of what is eternal and everlasting? That’s like accepting pennies when you could earn millions by putting in the same effort, but just readjusting your priorities. I know it’s much easier said than done, because we have been created to have emotions, desires, and wants, but everything must be maintained within reason and moderation. I believe in letting our imaginations soar, and to never accept anything less than the best, but what is beautiful about that is that a good portion of that is reliant upon Allah’s Wisdom and Decree. When we want something or strive towards achieving something, it’s important to remember that the results of our efforts are in the Hands of God, and that everything that happens to us is what is best for us, even if we don’t see it then. Reevaluate and readjust your priorities. Be content with what life throws your way, but never be satisfied with it, because there is always hope for more. There are no limits to how far we can go when we put our hearts and faith, and ambition and effort towards what we want. But, there are also times when what we want isn’t really what’s best for us, and so, we don’t get what we want, or are left to learn the hard way. Either way, what comes is for our benefit, and we just need to keep moving forward. I’ve done it, and so I’m sure any of you can. Sure, life has beaten me to the ground time and time again in the past, but I know that I will never face anything I can’t handle, and so, I get back up, regardless of how hard it is or how long it takes, and keep moving forward.
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned.” – Quran (2:286)
Here are some tips based on what I’ve learned to do when my patience has been tested:
- Take a break – This can be something as simple as putting down your phone, headphones, and everything else you may be carrying and just going for a walk – you, yourself, and God. Or, it can be something like taking a day or two off. Don’t worry, you’re not wasting time, or losing money (refer to the stupid saying, “Time is money.”). You’re recuperating. You’re recharging yourself so that you can be better, stronger, and more driven. You weren’t created to constantly be working. You were created to live a balanced life, so find balance, damnit!
- Increase worship – Your connection with God is something that will change your complete outlook towards life. When a distance has grown between us and God, we begin to question everything with ignorance, and lose faith and hope that everything will be okay. Your relationship with God is your greatest weapon against insanity, so embrace it, develop it, nourish it, and thank God for being your greatest friend and supporter. Whenever you can, take a second and supplicate or pray, just to get that reconnect with God. Think about it: since having cell phones and social media, how many times do we talk to our friends in a day? God has been there all this time, and staying in touch with him doesn’t cost you a three-year contract and a monthly bill. In fact, HE rewards you when you keep up with Him. How awesome is that?!
- Go fishing – Okay, so maybe you don’t HAVE to choose fishing as your activity, but do something that’s relaxing and doesn’t require much effort, but also gives you a chance to be productive and grow. I personally like fishing because it forces me to be patient. You spend a lot of time trying to catch something, and it really makes you have to be quiet and patient as you wait for the sudden and often subtle movements of the line to know if you’re getting a bite. Sometimes, that leads to catching something, and sometimes it doesn’t. When you do catch something, it’s a great sense of accomplishment, not because of a physical feat, but because you’ve overcome impatience and achieved something that has been done for centuries throughout history. When you don’t catch something, it’s an opportunity for building humility, because you’re reminded that not everything goes your way all the time, and that it was written for you today.
- Take care of YOU – This can involve so many things from meditation, exercising, eating well, hanging out with close friends, etc. The main point is to remember that you have to take care of yourself in order for you to make the most of life and be as successful as possible. Life’s not running away from you. What’s written for you will be yours, and what isn’t, wont. BUT, what you have to do is make the most of every moment, which includes you working hard at some times and taking breaks at others, eating clean and healthy most of the time and indulging in your favourite treat sometimes, etc. And all of this is stuff you should do without feeling guilty. Don’t call it a cheat meal, call it a treat meal. Don’t call it a lazy Sunday, call it a recharge Sunday. Get what I’m saying?
When things get overwhelming and our patience with ourselves or with others begins to wear thin, I find that it’s often a signal our body is sending us to take a moment to ourselves and come back to our centre point. Don’t let patience become your enemy, but instead, consider it that friend that calls you out when you’re in need of some tough love. Take some time out to take care of you, and remember that it’s okay to put things off for a day (don’t make this a habit though – that’s how procrastination is born), as long as you maintain balance and come back with stronger ambition, passion, and drive. Now, go out there and patiently persevere and make your dreams a reality!